Yes or no? Be careful how you answer that question when it comes to NFL futures because the wrong reply could be quite expensive.
The ever-expanding menu of NFL futures offerings now widely includes yes or no propositions on whether teams will win the Super Bowl or simply make the playoffs. These are certainly intriguing offerings, but they also often have some widest spreads between yes and no prices.
As for the Super Bowl yes/no menu, the spread between yes and no can be so vast that there’s simply no fair entry point to be found for our purposes. So, let’s quickly remove them from consideration and strictly focus on the yes/no to make the playoffs props.
Even in this endeavor, one has to be careful while looking long and hard for quality bets that won’t make you want to jump out a window if things go wrong. Case in point: obvious “no” plays like the Miami Dolphins will cost you an expensive -1800. The Dolphins stink, but no thanks on that kind of lay.
As for us, we’re skeptical by nature, so our default inclination will be to look more for “no” propositions than “yes”. Much like playing a season wins total over/under, the under is the way you want to look first because all that could go wrong for a team can actually help you. Same thing with betting the “no” when getting involved with these playoff propositions.
Strength of schedule should be at or near the top of your list of most important factors when you start your handicap. Specifically, target teams that had strong results against soft schedules last season and are now facing a much more difficult slate.
The NFL, after all, is a parity league. Outside of the New England Patriots, fortunes can change on a dime for just about everyone else because the talent is spread so thin between the top and middle-tier teams.
In each of the past two seasons, seven teams made the playoffs who hadn’t made the postseason in the previous season. So, don’t be afraid to go against the teams that made the playoffs in 2018, and also don’t be afraid to find new ones. Furthermore, in 2016, six teams that hadn’t been in the playoffs in ’15 found their way into the postseason field.
Another factor to consider is turnover margin. Teams that fared well in that department often regress when the luck runs out. We all know how important turnovers are in today’s game, but they can only sway things for so long.
Using the above criteria, here’s one play we like and have already taken a position in:
Seattle Seahawks “NO” -180
The -180 is on the more expensive side of what we’d like to lay on this type of offerings, but remember this is a “prove it” bet. Meaning, when we bet “no” on a side to make the playoffs, we are essentially asking them to prove to us that they can do it. In the Seahawks’ case, that’s a tall order.
The Seahawks have made the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons, so it may so strange to fade them. For casual fans and bettors, seeing head coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson atop the product provides the sense that it will be business as usual this season. We don’t see it that way.
This is a team that lacks star power, especially on offense. Outside of Wilson’s improvisational prowess, there’s nothing special about the passing game. As for the defense, we expect that unit to be tested in a big way against a schedule that includes games against the Steelers, Saints, Eagles, Falcons and twice against the Rams.
Last season, Seattle benefited from being a league-high +15 in turnover ratio. According to Warren Sharp’s Football Preview, the Seahawks were 8-3 last season in games where they were won the turnover battle, but when the turnover margin was in a +1/-1 range, they were just 6-6.
Throw in that we think the 49ers and Cardinals will be improved, it looks like the days of having four gimmes in the NFC West are over.
Make the NFL Playoffs YES/NO odds courtesy of Bovada.lv:
Arizona Cardinals Yes +500/No -800
Atlanta Falcons Yes +140/No -170
Baltimore Ravens Yes +180/No -220
Buffalo Bills Yes +325/No -450
Carolina Panthers Yes +240/No -300
Chicago Bears Yes -150/No +120
Cincinnati Bengals Yes +625/No -1100
Cleveland Browns Yes -135/No +105
Dallas Cowboys Yes -110/No -120
Denver Broncos +400/No -600
Detroit Lions Yes +475/No -700
Green Bay Packers Yes -115/No -115
Houston Texans Yes +150/No -180
Indianapolis Colts Yes -230/No +190
Jacksonville Jaguars Yes +250/No -325
Kansas City Chiefs Yes -400/No +300
LA Chargers Yes -230/No +190
LA Rams Yes -350/No +275
Miami Dolphins Yes +900/No -1800
Minnesota Vikings Yes +115/No -145
New England Patriots Yes -900/No +550
New Orleans Saints Yes -300/No +240
NY Giants Yes +400/No -600
NY Jets Yes +300/No -400
Oakland Raiders Yes +550/No -900
Philadelphia Eagles Yes -210/No +170
Pittsburgh Steelers Yes even/No -130
San Francisco 49ers Yes +195/No -250
Seattle Seahawks Yes +150/No -180
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Yes +475/No -700
Tennessee Titans Yes +275/No -350
Washington Redskins Yes +450/No -650